Friday, January 18, 2008

There Really is a Washington State

I was investigating Waymarking (see my previous post), which uses GPS coordinates to mark locations of interest, when it struck me that perhaps the whole of Washington State should be waymarked.

No, seriously!

I can't think of the number of times I have felt compelled to write out Washington STATE, rather than leaving it as: "Washington." For one thing, it is continually mistaken for Washington D. C., which, granted, is an important place. But, it's not a whole state, now is it? How can anyone miss something that's 360 miles wide and 240 miles long?

The most ludicrous example came about when my husband, John, was trying to solve a problem with a well-known parcel delivery service. Now, geography is this company's very vocation--their middle name, so to speak. You would think that sorting out a delivery problem with a company that is motivated by potential future business would be relatively easy. In many cases, I'm sure it is. However, one time when John was transferred to a supervisor somewhere across the nation at the origin of the problem, the conversation went something like this:

John: "I'm having a problem getting my package delivered. It's been returned twice now."

Supervisor: "And what is your address?"

John: "Such and such; such and such; Washington; zip."

Supervisor: "Washington?"

John: "Yes, Washington."

Supervisor: "D.C., right?"

John: "No, Washington State, on the west coast."

Supervisor: "Washington is on the east coast."

John: "I mean Washington STATE, on the west coast."

Supervisor: "There's no Washington out there."

John: "Oh, yes there is."

Supervisor: "I've never heard of a Washington STATE."

John: "Picture a map of the west coast. What's above California?"

Supervisor: "Oregon."

John: "Okay, and what's above Oregon?"

Supervisor: "Canada."

John: "I suggest you get out a map and take another look!"

I am not making this up. We finally got our package delivered, and hopefully, the delivery company is now giving geography quizzes to its employees. Parents, don't ever let your children assume that studying geography is no longer important.

Before ending this, I just want to give out a few state facts about lovely Washington.

Washington is:

--the 42nd state of the union (1889)
--nicknamed The "Evergreen State"
--the only state named after a president
--home to about six and a half million people
--elector of the nation's first Asian-American state governor, Gary Locke
--host to many 21st century mega-businesses, like Boeing, Microsoft, Nintendo,, Weyerhauser, and others
--home to the 9th largest Native American population in the nation (2005 Census).
--producer of most of the nation's raspberries, hops, spearmint oil, apples, and more
--bisected by the lovely (and volcano-filled) Cascade Mountains, from the northern border with British Columbia to the southern border with Oregon
--known for its many scenic icons, including: Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, Mount St. Helens, the Puget Sound, the Palouse, the Columbia River, the rugged coastline, and much more...

"Yes, Virginia, there really is a" Washington STATE!


  1. OMG! I think the UPS supervisor could give that Miss South Carolina contestant a run for her money. I say we hold a geography smack-down!

  2. I second that! (but don't quiz me on those state capitals just yet...)

  3. LOL! Just what I needed... a Friday afternoon giggle! Thanks Chery!

  4. What fun! While visiting in BC, Canada, I was told that "Mississippi is down there in the desert somewhere, isn't it?" So being geography challenged isn't just a USA problem! LOL!

  5. My ex used to work for UPS so I'm not a bit surprised. LOL

    Being from Upstate New York I'm often asked how I like living in such a large city. I tell them I live out where they keep the cows. Usually this just leaves them very confused, so I feel your pain.

  6. Happy Friday, everyone - wherever you are (wait a minute, let me get out my map)

  7. Chery--

    Great story! I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and we frequently had merchants tell us that it would cost more ship something to a foreign country! Nobody could find New Mexico (the 47th State) on a map, either.

  8. When I was a little girl (about 4, I think), I had one of those little puzzles with all the states on it. I'd learned where all the states were and could name them as I put each piece on the map. My brother had gone to college in Maryland, and I was told we were going to go through Washington to get there. I knew where Washington was--way out on the Pacific Ocean--so I showed everyone how we were going to get to Maryland from Mississippi. The route went all the way through Washington state. Now I'm sure that to a 4-year-old that drive felt like we had gone through Washington State, especially on the days before Interstates.

  9. That is too funny -- in a sad, pathetic sort of way! I can feel your pain as well. Several years ago, I was helping out at the Ohio Genealogical Society booth at the NGS conference in Portland, Oregon. I cannot tell you how many people confused "Ohio" with "Iowa." One person asked me where I was from and I said, "Columbus. It's nice being in the state capital." He said, "I thought the capital was Des Moines."

  10. This is fantastic Chery! Having grown up in Minnesota. I often got confused looks from people when I'd say I live in St. Paul... you know the capital. The response was 'isn't St. Paul in Wisconsin and Minneapolis in Minnesota, and the Mississippi divides them right?" The problem wasn't much resolved when I decided to go to Moorhead State University in Moorhead, MN. I'd explain that it's across the Red River of the North with Fargo on the other side. Mind you this was in 1982 (when Regan was President). Occasionally the response was 'are you sure you want to go there ... I think there are still Indians who attack.' GIVE ME A BREAK!

  11. Luci, Luci - this is quite a nice surprise! My fellow Nearby Norwegian! Have you come a'blogging with the rest of us? I can't wait to read some of your posts.

  12. I'm commenting a bit late here. When I tell people I'm from Spokane, Washington, they always want to know if it's near Seattle and how much rain we get! LOL! I think I'm going to have to write a post to match yours...all about living on the dry side. (sigh!) We Washingtonians just don't get no respect (to misquote Rodney Dangerfield).